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A New Translation by Paul M. Sweezy 




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This is Friedrich Engels' draft, in question-and-answer form, of 
what later became the Communist Manifesto^ of which Engels was 
co-author with Marx. Briefer and more elementary than the Mani- 
festo, it is perhaps the simplest authoritative statement of the funda- 
mentals of Marxism that has ever been written* 

We are publishing Principles of Communism at this time for two 
main reasons. 

First, it is in its own right an important work which ought to be 
available to the English-reading public. Wc know of three earlier 
English translations,* the last in 1933, but all are long since out of 
print and practically unobtainable. 

Second, Marxism in its predominant present-day form of Marx- 
ism-Leninism is under violent attack in the United States today. People 
are on trial for teaching or "conspiring to teach" its doctrines, which 
are alleged to include advocacy of violent overthrow of the govern- 
ment of the United States. Under these circumstances, it seems worth 
while to put before the American public this concise and easily un- 
derstandable statement of just what the founding fathers of Marxism 
stood for. In doing so, we call special attention to Engels' answer to 
Question 16 — "Will the peaceful abolition of private property be pos- 
sible?" — on pages 13-14 below, 

Principles of Communism, EngeJs wrote to Marx at the time 
(November, 1847), was written *'in a frightful hurry/* and it cer- 
tainly lacks the grand design and the finished style of the Manifesto. 
And yet in its way it is no less a work of art. Engels shows a master's 
touch in focusing the reader's attention and in getting across the 
central message of a new society in the making. This is no scholarly 
tract; it selects, emphasizes, exaggerates. But to criticize it for these 
qualities would be like criticizing a painter in oils for not trying to 
duplicate the results obtained by the photographer. This is essentially 
an essay in communication, the communication of profound insights 
and basic ideas. As such it is as fresh and relevant today as it was 
more than a hundred years ago. 

In one respect, indeed^ it is even more relevant today than it was 
a hundred years ago. Engels, as true revolutionaries often do, saw his- 

* By Max Bedacht, published by the Daily Worker Publishing Co., Chi- 
cago, circa 1925; by Eden and Cedar Paul, published as an appendix to 
RyazanofFs edition of the Communist Manifesto^ International Publishers, 
1930; and by Guido Baracchi, Melbourne, Australia, 1933. 



torical trends in foreshortened perspective, He felt confident that the 
revolutions which were about to break out all over Europe would be 
merely the first act in the transition to the communist society of the 
future; he thought that capitalism had exhausted its creative possibil- 
ities and was about to pass from the scene. In these views he was mis- 
taken. The revolutions of 1848 proved abortive, and the greatest 
period of capitalist expansion was still in the future. Much that Engels 
wrote at that time was inevitably premature. But this only means that 
it is all the more relevant for us at a time when the tide of world 
revolution has already swirled over a large part of the earth and is 
daily rising higher despite the frantic commands of our twentieth- 
century Canutes. If you want to penetrate to the inner meaning of 
these historic events and discover where they arc leadings there is still 
no better guide than the straightforward questions and answers 
written by Friedrich Engels more than a century ago. 

Principles of Communism was written in late October, 1847, and 
was first published ( from Engels* handwritten script) by Eduard 
Bernstein in 1914 in Vorwarts, the centra! organ of the German 
Social Democratic Party. It has since appeared in a number of Ger- 
man versions, the definitive edition being that in the Marx-Engels 
Gesamtausgabc, published by the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute in 
Moscow. The present translation is from the text of the Gesamtaus- 
gabe } First Division, Volume 6, Part 1, pages 503-522. 

One point regarding word usage requires explanation. Engels 
frequently uses the term Manufaktur and its various derivatives, and 
these have been translated by their exact English equivalents, "manu- 
facture,*' "manufacturing/* etc. But the reader should note that these 
terms are not used in the sense which is prevalent today, that is, to 
denote production in large mechanized factories employing wage 
labor. Rather, they are used in their literal sense to denote production 
by hand. But there is a difference between handicraft and manufac- 
ture. The former is carried on by independent artisans, assisted 
perhaps by journeymen and apprentices who hope some day to 
acquire independent status; the latter is carried on either by home- 
workers working for the account of merchant capitalists, or else by 
groups of craftsmen working together in large workshops belonging 
to capitalist employers. Economically speaking, therefore, manufac- 
ture, as the term is used by Engels, is a transitional form between the 
guild production of the medieval towns and the factory production of 
modern capitalism. For the latter form of production Engels usually 
uses the term "big industry/* 

The Editors of Monthly Review 

June, 1952 


QUESTION 1. What is communism? 

Answer, Communism is the doctrine of the conditions of the 
liberation of the proletariat. 

QUESTION 2, What is the proletariat? 

Answer. The proletariat is that class in society which lives en- 
tirely from the sale of its labor and does not draw profit from any 
kind of capital; whose weal and woe, whose life and death, whose 
whole existence depends on the demand for labor, hence on the 
changing state of business, on the vagaries of unbridled competition. 
The proletariat, or the class of proletarians, is> in a word, the working 
class of the nineteenth century. 

QUESTION 3. Proletarians, then, have not always existed? 

Answer, No. There have always been poor and working classes; 
and the working classes have mostly been poor. But there have not 
always been workers and poor people living under conditions as they 
are today; in other words, there have not always been proletarians, 
any more than there has always been free unbridled competition. 

QUESTION 4, How did the proletariat originate? 

Answer. The proletariat originated in the industrial revolution 
which took place in England in the last half of the last [eighteenth] 
century, and which has since then been repeated in all the civilized 
countries of the world. This industrial revolution was precipitated by 
the discovery of the steam engine, various spinning machines, the 
mechanical loom, and a whole series of other mechanical devices. 
These machines, which were very expensive and hence could be 
bought only by big capitalists, altered the whole mode of production 


and displaced the former workers, because the machines turned out 
cheaper and better commodities than the workers could produce with 
their inefficient spinning wheels and handlooms. The machines de- 
livered industry wholly into the hands of the big capitalists and ren- 
dered entirely worthless the meager property of the workers (tools, 
looms, etc.). The result was that the capitalists soon had everything 
in their hands and nothing remained to the workers. This marked 
the introduction of the factory system into the textile industry. 

Once the impulse to the introduction of machinery and the fac- 
tory system had been given, this system spread quickly to all other 
branches of industry, especially cloth- and book-printing, pottery, and 
the metal industries. Lahor was more and more divided among the 
individual workers so that the worker who previously had done a 
complete piece of work now did only part of that piece. This division 
of labor made it possible to produce things faster and cheaper. It re- 
duced the activity of the individual worker to simple, endlessly re- 
peated mechanical motions which could be performed not only as 
well but much better by a machine. In this way, all these industries 
feil, one after another, under the dominance of steam, machinery, 
and the factory system, just as spinning and weaving had already 
done. But at the same time they also fell into the hands of big capital- 
ists, and their workers were deprived of whatever independence re- 
mained to them. Gradually, not only genuine manufacture but also 
handicrafts came within the province of the factory system as big 
capitalists increasingly displaced the small master craftsmen by setting 
up huge workshops which saved many expenses and permitted an 
elaborate division of labor. 

This is how it has come about that in civilized countries at the 
present time nearly all kinds of labor are performed in factories, and 
in nearly all branches of work handicrafts and manufacture have 
been superseded. This process has to an ever greater degree ruined 
the old middle class, especially the small handicraftsmen; it has en- 
tirely transformed the condition of the workers- and two new classes 
have been created which are gradually swallowing up all the others. 
These are: 

( 1 ) The class of big capitalists, who in all civilized countries 
are already in almost exclusive possession of all the means of subsis- 
tence and of the instruments (machines, factories) and materials 
necessary for the production of the means of subsistence. This is the 
bourgeois class, or the bourgeoisie. 

(2) The class of the wholly propertyless, who are obliged to sell 
their labor to the bourgeoisie in order to get in exchange the means 
of subsistence necessary for their support, This is called the class of 
proletarians, or the proletariat. 



QUESTION 5. Under what conditions does this sale of the 
labor of the proletarians to the bourgeoisie take place? 

Answer. Labor is a commodity like any other and its price is 
therefore determined by exactly the same laws that apply to other 
commodities. In a regime of big industry or of free competition — as 
we shall see, the two come to the same thing — the price of a com- 
modity is on the average always equal to its costs of production. 
Hence the price of labor is also equal to the costs of production of 
labor. But the costs of production of labor consist of precisely the 
quantity of means of subsistence necessary to enable the worker to 
continue working and to prevent the working class from dying out. 
The worker will therefore get no more for his labor than is necessary 
for this purpose; the price of labor or the wage will, in other words, 
be the lowest, the minimum, required for the maintenance of life. 
However, since business is sometimes better and sometimes worse, it 
follows that the worker sometimes gets more and sometimes less, just 
as the industrialist sometimes gets more and sometimes less for his 
commodities. But again, just as the industrialist, on the average of 
good times and bad, gets na more and no less for his commodities 
than what they cost, similarly on the average the worker gets no more 
and no less than this minimum. This economic law of wages operates 
the more strictly the greater the degree to which big industry has 
taken possession of all branches of production. 

QUESTION 6- What working classes were there before the 
industrial revolution? 

Answer. The working classes have always, according to the 
different stages of development of society, lived in different circum- 
stances and had different relations to the owning and ruling classes. 
In antiquity, the workers were the slaves of the owners, just as they 
still are in many backward countries and even in the southern part of 
the United States. In the Middle Ages, they were the serfs of the 
landowning nobility, as they still arc in Hungary, Poland, and Russia. 
In the Middle Ages, and indeed right up to the industrial revolution, 
there were also journeymen in the cities who worked in the service of 
petty bourgeois masters. Gradually, as manufacture developed, these 
journeymen became manufacturing workers who were even then em- 
ployed by larger capitalists. 

QUESTION 7. In what way do proletarians differ from 

Answer, The slave is sold once and for all; the proletarian must 
sell himself daily and hourly. The individual slave, property of one 



master, is assured an existence, however miserable it may be, because 
of the master's interest. The individual proletarian, property as it 
were of the entire bourgeois class which buys his labor only when 
someone has need of it, has no secure existence. This existence is 
assured only to the class as a whole. The slave is outside competition; 
the proletarian is in it and experiences all its vagaries. The slave 
counts as a thing, not as a member of civil society; the proletarian is 
recognized as a person, as a member of civil society. Thus the slave 
can have a better existence than the proletarian, while the proletarian 
belongs to a higher stage of social development and himself stands on 
a higher social level than the slave. The slave frees himself when, of 
all the relations of private property, he abolishes only the relation of 
slavery and thereby becomes a proletarian; the proletarian can free 
himself only by abolishing private property in genera]. 

QUESTION 8* In what way do proletarians differ from 


Answer. The serf possesses and uses an instrument of produc- 
tion, a piece of land, in exchange for which he gives up a part of his 
product or part of the services of his labor. The proletarian works 
with the instruments of production of another, for the account of this 
other, in exchange for a part of the product. The serf gives up, the 
proletarian receives. The serf has an assured existence, the proletarian 
has not. The serf is outside competition, the proletarian is in it. The 
serf liberates himself in one of three ways: either he runs away to the 
city and there becomes a handicraftsman; or, instead of products and 
services, he gives money to his lord and thereby becomes a free ten- 
ant; or he overthrows his feudal lord and himself becomes a property- 
owner. In short, by one route or another he gets into the owning class 
and enters into competition. The proletarian liberates himself by 
abolishing competition, private property, and all class differences. 

QUESTION 9. In what way do proletarians differ from 
handicraftsmen? - 

QUESTION 10. In what way do proletarians differ from 
manufacturing workers? 

Answer, The manufacturing worker of the sixteenth to the 
eighteenth centuries still had, with but few exceptions, an instrument 
of production in his own possession — his loom, the family spinning 
wheel, a little plot of land which he cultivated in his spare time. The 
proletarian has none of these things. The manufacturing worker al- 



most always lives in the countryside and in a more or less patriarchal 
relation to his landlord or employer; the proletarian lives for the most 
part in the city and his relation to his employer is purely a cash re- 
lation. The manufacturing worker is torn out of his patriarchal rela- 
tion by big industry, loses whatever property he still has, and in this 
way becomes a proletarian. 

QUESTION 11. What were the immediate consequences of 
the industrial revolution and of the division of society 
into bourgeoisie and proletariat? 

Answer. First, the lower and lower prices of industrial products 
brought about by machine labor totally destroyed in all countries of 
the world the old system of manufacture or industry based upon 
hand labor. In this way, all semi-barbarian countries, which had 
hitherto been more or less strangers to historical development and 
whose industry had been based on manufacture, were violently forced 
out of their isolation. They bought the cheaper commodities of the 
English and allowed their own manufacturing workers to be ruined. 
Countries which had known no progress for thousands of years, for 
example India, were thoroughly revolutionized, and even China is 
now on the way to a revolution. Wc have come to the point where a 
new machine invented in England deprives millions of Chinese work- 
ers of their livelihood within a year's time. In this way big industry 
has brought all the people of the earth into contact with each other, 
has merged all local markets into one world market, has spread civili- 
zation and progress everywhere and has thus ensured that whatever 
happens in the civilized countries will have repercussions in all other 
countries. It follows that if the workers in England or France now 
liberate themselves, this must set off revolutions in all other countries 
— revolutions which sooner or later must accomplish the liberation of 
their respective working classes. 

Second, wherever big industries displaced manufacturej the 
bourgeoisie developed in wealth and power to the utmost and made 
itself the first class of the country. The result was that wherever this 
happened the bourgeoisie took political power into its own hands and 
displaced the hitherto ruling classes, the aristocracy, the guildmastcrs, 
and their representative, the absolute monarchy. The bourgeoisie an- 
nihilated the power of the aristocracy, the nobility, by abolishing the 
entailment of estates, in other words by making landed property sub- 
ject to purchase and sale, and by doing away with the special privi- 
leges of the nobility. It destroyed the power of the guildmasters by 
abolishing guilds and handicraft privileges. In their place, it put 




competition, that is, a state of society in which everyone has the right 
to enter into any branch of industry, the only obstacle being a lack of 
the necessary capital. The introduction of free competition is thus a 
public declaration that from now on the members of society are un- 
equal only to the extent that their capitals are unequal, that capital 
is the decisive power, and that therefore the capitalists, the bourge- 
oisie, have become the first class in society. Free competition is neces- 
sary for the establishment of big industry, because it is the only 
condition of society in which big industry can make its way. Having 
destroyed the social power of the nobility and the guildmasters, the 
bourgeoisie also destroyed their political power. Having raised itself 
to the actual position of first class in society, it proclaims itself to be 
also the dominant political class. This it does through the introduc- 
tion of the representative system which rests on bourgeois equality 
before the law and the recognition of free competition, and in Euro- 
pean countries takes the form of constitutional monarchy. In these 
constitutional monarchies, only those who possess a certain capital are 
voters, that is to say, only members of the bourgeoisie. These bour- 
geois voters choose the deputies, and these bourgeois deputies, by 
using their right to refuse to vote taxes, choose a bourgeois govern- 

Third, everywhere the proletariat develops in step with the 
bourgeoisie. In proportion as the bourgeoisie grows in wealth the pro- 
letariat grows in numbers. For, since proletarians can be employed 
only by capital, and since capital expands only through employing 
labor, it follows that the growth of the proletariat proceeds at pre- 
cisely the same pace as the growth of capital. Simultaneously, this 
process draws members of the bourgeoisie and proletarians together 
into the great cities where industry can be carried on most profitably, 
and by thus throwing great masses in one spot it gives to the prole- 
tarians a consciousness of their own strength. Moreover, the further 
this process advances, the more new labor-saving machines are in- 
vented, the greater is the pressure exercised by big industry on wages, 
which, as we have seen, sink to their minimum and therewith render 
the condition of the proletariat increasingly unbearable. The growing 
dissatisfaction of the proletariat thus joins with its rising power to 
prepare a proletarian social revolution. 

QUESTION 12. What were the further consequences of the 
industrial revolution? 

Answer. Big industry created in the steam engine and other 
machines the means of endlessly expanding industrial production, 
speeding it up, and cutting its costs. With production thus facilitated, 



the free competition which is necessarily bound up with big industry 
assumed the most extreme forms; a multitude of capitalists invaded 
industry, and in a short while more was produced than was needed. 
As a consequence, finished commodities could not foe sold, and a so- 
called commercial crisis broke out. Factories had to be closed, their 
owners went bankrupt, and the workers were without bread. Deepest 
misery reigned everywhere. After a time, the superfluous products 
were sold, the factories began to operate again, wages rose, and gradu- 
ally business got better than ever. But it was not long before too many 
commodities were again produced and a new crisis broke out, only to 
follow the same course as its predecessor. Ever since the beginning of 
this [nineteenth] century, the condition of industry has constantly 
fluctuated between periods of prosperity and periods of crisis ; nearly 
every five to seven years a fresh crisis has intervened, always with the 
greatest hardship for workers, and always accompanied by general 
revolutionary stirrings and the direst peril to the whole existing order 
of things. 

QUESTION 13. What follows from these periodic commer- 
cial crises? 

Answer. First: That though big industry in its earliest stage 
created free competition, it has now outgrown free competition; that 
for big industry competition and generally the individualistic organ- 
ization of production have become a fetter which it must and will 
shatter; that so long as big industry remains on its present footing it 
can be maintained only at the cost of general chaos every seven years, 
each time threatening the whole of civilization and not only plunging 
the proletarians into misery but also ruining large sections of the 
bourgeoisie; hence either that big industiy must itself be given up, 
which is an absolute impossibility, or that it makes unavoidably nec- 
essary an entirely new organization of society in which production is 
no longer directed by mutually competing individual industrialists but 
rather by the whole society operating according to a definite plan and 
taking account of the needs of all. 

Second : That big industry and the limitless expansion of produc- 
tion which it makes possible bring within the range of feasibility a 
social order in which so much is produced that every member of 
society will be in a position to exercise and develop all his powers and 
faculties in complete freedom. It thus appears that the very qualities 
of big industry which in our present-day society produce misery and 
crises are those which in a different form of society will abolish this 
misery and these catastrophic depressions. We see with the greatest 




(1) That all these evils are from now on to be ascribed solely 
to a social order which no longer corresponds to the requirements of 
the real situation; and 

(2) That it is possible, through a new social order, to do away 
with these evils altogether. 


What will this new social order have to be 

Answer. Above all, it will have to take the control of industry 
and of all branches of production out of the hands of mutually com- 
peting individuals, and instead institute a system in which all these 
branches of production are operated by society as a whole, that is, for 
the common account, according to a common plan, and with the par- 
ticipation of all members of society. It will, in other words, abolish 
competition and replace it with association. Moreover, since the man- 
agement of industry by individuals necessarily implies private prop- 
erty, and since competition is in reality merely the manner and form 
in which the control of industry by private property owners expresses 
itself, it follows that private property cannot be separated from com- 
petition and the individual management of industry. Private property 
must therefore be abolished and in its place must come the common 
utilization of ail instruments of production and the distribution of all 
products according to common agreement — in a word, what is called 
the communal ownership of goods. In fact, the abolition of private 
property is doubtless the shortest and most significant way to charac- 
terize the revolution in the whole social order which has been made 
necessary by the development of industry, and for this reason it is 
rightly advanced by communists as their main demand. 

QUESTION 15, Was not the abolition of private property 
possible at an earlier time? 

Answer, No. Every change in the social order, every revolution 
in property relations, is the necessary consequence of the creation of 
new forces of production which no longer fit into the old property re- 
lations. Private property itself originated in this way. For private 
property has not always existed. When, towards the end of the Mid- 
dle Ages, there arose a new mode of production which could not be 
carried on under the then existing feudal and guild forms of property, 
this manufacture, which had outgrown the old property relations, 
created a new property form, private property. And for manufacture 
and the earliest stage of development of big industry, private property 




diversity of Te» 

Austin. Texa* 

was the only possible property form; the social order based on it was 
the only possible social order. So long as it is not possible to produce 
so much that there is enough for all, with more left over for expanding 
the social capital and extending the forces of production — so long as 
this is not possible, there must always be a ruling class directing the 
use of society*s productive forces^ and a poor, oppressed class. How 
these classes are constituted depends on the stage of development. 
The agrarian Middle Ages give us the baron and the serf; the cities of 
the later Middle Ages show us the guildmaster and the journeyman 
and the day laborer; the seventeenth century has its manufacturers 
and manufacturing workers; the nineteenth has big factory owners 
and proletarians. It is clear that up to now the forces of production 
have never been developed to the point where enough could be pro- 
duced for all, and that private property has become a fetter and a 
barrier in relation to the further development of the forces of produc- 
tion. Now, however, the development of big industry has ushered in 
a new period. Capital and the forces of production have been ex- 
panded to an unprecedented extent, and the means are at hand to 
multiply them without limit in the near future. Moreover, the forces 
of production have been concentrated in the hands of a few bourge- 
ois, while the great mass of the people are more and more falling into 
the proletariat, their situation becoming more wretched and intoler- 
able in proportion to the increase of wealth of the bourgeoisie. And 
finally these mighty and easily extended forces of production have so 
far outgrown private property and the bourgeoisie that they threaten 
at any moment to unleash the most violent disturbances of the social 
order. Now, under these conditions, the abolition of private property 
has become not only possible but absolutely necessary. 

QUESTION 16- Will the peaceful abolition; of private prop- 
erty be possible? 

Answer, It would be desirable if this could happen, and the 
communists would certainly be the last to oppose it, Communists"^ 
know only too well that all conspiracies are not only useless but even 
harmful. They know all too well that revolutions are not made inten- 
tionally and arbitrarily, but that everywhere and always they have 
been the necessary consequence of conditions which were wholly inde- 
pendent of the will and direction of individual parties and entire 
classes. But they also see that the development of the proletariat in ^ 
nearly all civilized countries has been violently suppressed, and that in 
this way the opponents of communism have been working toward a 
revolution with all their strength. If the oppressed proletariat is 
finally driven to revolution, then we communists will defend the 





interests of the proletarians with deeds as we now defend them with 

QUESTION 17- Will it be possible for private property to 
be abolished at one stroke? 

Answer. No, no more than existing forces of production can at 
one stroke be multiplied to the extent necessary for the creation of a 
communal society. In all probability, the proletarian revolution will 
transform existing society gradually and will be able to abolish private 
property only when the means of production are available in suffi- 
cient quantity. 

QUESTION 18. What will be the course of this revolution? 

Answer. Above all, it will establish a democratic constitution 
and through this the direct or indirect dominance of the proletariat 
Direct in England, where the proletarians are already a majority of 
the people. Indirect in France and Germany, where the majority of 
the people consists not only of proletarians but also of small peasants 
and petty bourgeois who are in the process of falling into the proletar- 
iat who are more and more dependent in all their political interests 
on the proletariat, and who must therefore soon adapt themselves to 
the demands of the proletariat. Perhaps this will cost a second strug- 
gle, but the outcome can only be the victory of the proletariat. 

Democracy would be wholly valueless to the proletariat if it were 
not immediately used as a means for putting through measures directed 
against private property and ensuring the livelihood of the proletar- 
iat. The main measures, emerging as the necessary result of existing 
relations, are the following: 

(1) Limitation of private property through progressive taxation, 
heavy inheritance taxes, abolition of inheritance through collateral 
lines (brothers, nephews, etc.), forced loans, etc. 

(2) Gradual expropriation of landowners, industrialists, railroad 
magnates and shipowners, partly through competition by state indus- 
try, partly directly through compensation in the form of bonds. 

(3) Confiscation of the possessions of all emigrants and rebels 
against the majority of the people. 

(4) Organization of labor or employment of proletarians on 
publicly owned land; in factories and workshops, with competition 
among the workers being abolished and with the factory owners, inso- 



far as they still exist, being obliged to pay the same high wages as 
those paid by the state, 

(5) An equal obligation on all members of society to work until 
such time as private property has been completely abolished. Forma- 
tion of industrial armies, especially for agriculture. 

(6) Centralization of money and credit in the hands of the state 
through a national bank operating with state capital, and the suppres- 
sion of all private banks and bankers. 

(7) Expansion of the number of national factories, workshops, 
railroads, ships; bringing new lands into cultivation and improvement 
of land already under cultivation — all in proportion to the growth of 
the capital and labor force at the disposal of the nation. 

(8) Education of all children, from the moment they can leave 
their mothers' care, in national establishments at national cost. Edu- 
cation and production together. 

(9) Construction, on public lands, of great palaces as communal 
dwellings for associated groups of citizens engaged in both industry 
and agriculture and combining in their way of life the advantages of 
urban and rural conditions while avoiding the one-sidedness and 
drawbacks of each. 

(10) Destruction of all unhealthy and jerry-built dwellings in 
urban districts. 

(11) Equal inheritance rights for children born in and out of 

(12) Concentration of all means of transportation in the hands 
of the nation. 

It is impossible, of course, to carry out all these measures at once. 
But one will always bring others in its wake. Once the first radical 
attack on private property has been launched, the proletariat will 
find itself forced to go ever further, to concentrate increasingly in 
the hands of the state all capital, all agriculture, all transport, all 
trade. All the foregoing measures are directed to this end; and they 
will become practicable and feasible, capable of producing their 
centralizing effects to precisely the degree that the proletariat 
through its labor multiplies the country's productive forces. Finally, 
when all capital, all production, all exchange have been brought to- 
gether in the hands of the nation, private property will disappear of 
its own accord, money will become superfluous, and production will 
so expand and man so change that society will be able to slough off 
whatever of its old economic habits may remain. 



QUESTION 19. Will it be possible for this revolution to take 
place in one country alone? 

Answer. No, By creating the world market, big industry has 
already brought all the peoples of the earth, and especially the civil- 
ized peoples, into such close relation with one another that none is 
independent of what happens to the others. Further, it has co- 
ordinated the social development of the civilized countries to such 
an extent that in all of them bourgeoisie and proletariat have become 
the decisive classes and the struggle between them the great struggle 
of the day. It follows that the communist revolution will be not merely 
a national phenomenon but must take place simultaneously in all 
civilized countries, that is to say, at least in England, America, 
France, and Germany. It will develop in each of these countries more 
or less rapidly according as one country or the other has a more 
developed industry, greater wealth, a more significant mass of pro- 
ductive forces. Hence it will go slowest and will meet most obstacles 
in Germany, most rapidly and with the fewest difficulties in England. 
It will have a powerful impact on the other countries of the world 
and will radically alter the course of development which they have 
followed up to now, while greatly stepping up its pace. It is a univer- 
sal revolution and will accordingly have a universal range. 

QUESTION 20, What will be the consequences of the ulti- 
mate disappearance of private property? 

Answer, Society will take all forces of production and means 
of commerce, as well as the exchange and distribution of products, 
out of the hands of private capitalists and will manage them in 
accordance with a plan based on the availability of resources and the 
needs of the whole society. In this way, most important of all, the 
evil consequences which are now associated with the conduct of big 
industry will be abolished. There will be no more crises; the expanded 
production, which for the present order of society is overproduction 
and hence a prevailing cause of misery, will then be insufficient and 
in need of being expanded much further. Instead of generating 
misery, overproduction will reach beyond the elementary require- 
ments of society to assure the satisfaction of the needs of aU; it will 
create new needs and at the same time the means of satisfying them. 
It will become the condition of and the stimulus to new progress 
which will no longer throw the whole social order into confusion, as 
progress has always done in the past. Big industry, freed from the 
pressure of private property, will undergo such an expansion that 
what we now see will seem as petty in comparison as manufacture 



seems when put beside the big industry of our own day. This develop- 
ment of industry will make available to society a sufficient mass of 
products to satisfy the needs of everyone. The same will be true of 
agriculture, which also suffers from the pressure of private property 
and is held back by the division of privately owned land into small 
parcels. Here existing improvements and scientific procedures will 
be put into practice, with a resulting leap forward which will assure 
to society all the products it needs. In this way such an abundance of 
goods will be produced that society will be able to satisfy the needs of 
all its members. The division of society into different, mutually hos- 
tile classes will then become unnecessary. Indeed, it will be not only 
unnecessary but intolerable in the new social order. The existence of 
classes originated in the division of labor, and the division of labor as 
it has been known up to the present will completely disappear. For 
mechanical and chemical processes are not enough to bring industrial 
and agricultural production up to the level we have described; the 
capacities of the men who make use of these processes must undergo 
a corresponding development. Just as the peasants and manufacturing 
workers of the last century changed their whole way of life and be- 
came quite different people when they were impressed into big indus- 
try, in the same way communal control over production by society as 
a whole and the resulting new development will both require an 
entirely different kind of human material. People will no longer be, 
as they are today, subordinated to a single branch of production, 
bound to it, exploited by it; they will no longer develop one of their 
faculties at the expense of all others \ they will no longer know only 
one branch, or one branch of a single branch, of production as a 
whole. Even industry as it is today is finding such people less and less 
useful. Industry controlled by society as a whole and operated accord- 
ing to a plan presupposes well-rounded human beings, their faculties 
developed in balanced fashion, able to see the system of production 
in its entirety- The form of the division of labor which makes one a 
peasant^ another a cobbler, a third a factory worker, a fourth a 
stock-market operator has already been undermined by machinery 
and will completely disappear. Education will enable young people 
quickly to familiarize themselves with the whole system of production 
and to pass from one branch of production to another in response to 
the needs of society or their own inclinations. It will therefore free 
them from the one-sided character which the present-day division of 
labor impresses upon every individual. Communist society will in this 
way make it possible for its members to put their comprehensively 
developed faculties to full use. But when this happens classes will 
necessarily disappear. It follows that society organized on a commu- 
nist basis is incompatible with the existence of classes on the one 




hand, and that the very building of such a society provides the 
means of abolishing class differences on the other. 

A corollary of this is that the difference between city and coun- 
try is destined to disappear. The management of agriculture and in- 
dustry by tihe same people rather than by two different classes of 
people isj if only for purely material reasons, a necessary condition of 
communist association. The dispersal of the agricultural population 
on the land alongside the crowding of the industrial population into 
the great cities is a condition which corresponds to an undeveloped 
state of both agriculture and industry and can already be felt as an 
obstacle to further development. 

The general cooperation of all members of society for the pur- 
pose of planned exploitation of the forces of production, the expan- 
sion of production to the point where it will satisfy the needs of all, the 
abolition of a situation in which the needs of some are satisfied at 
the expense of the needs of others, the complete liquidation of classes 
and their conflicts, the rounded development of the capacities of all 
members of society through the elimination of the present division of 
labor, through industrial education, through engaging in varying 
activities, through the participation by all in the enjoyments pro- 
duced by all, through the combination of city and country— these are 
the main consequences of the abolition of private property. 

QUESTION 21. What will be the influence of communist 
society on the family? 

Answer. It will transform the relations between the sexes into a 
purely private matter which concerns only the persons involved and 
into which society has no occasion to intervene. It can do this since 
it does away with private property and educates children on a com- 
munal basis, and in this way removes the two bases of traditional 
marriage, the dependence^ rooted in private property, of the woman on 
the man and of the children on the parents. And here is the answer to 
the outcry of the highly moral philistines against the "community of 
women." Community of women is a condition which belongs entirely 
to bourgeois society and which today finds its complete expression in 
prostitution. But prostitution is based on private property and falls 
with it. Thus communist society, instead of introducing community of 
women, in fact abolishes it. 

QUESTION 22. What will be the attitude of communism to 
existing nationalities? 

Answer. As is. 1 



QUESTION 23. What will be its attitude to existing re- 

Answer. As is. 1 

QUESTION 24* How do communists differ from socialists? 

Answer. The so-called socialists are divided into three cate- 

The first category consists of adherents of a feudal and patri- 
archal society which has already been destroyed, and is still daily 
being destroyed, by big industry and world trade and their creation; 
bourgeois society. This category concludes from the evils of existing 
society that feudal and patriarchal society must be restored because 
it was free of such evils. In one way or another all their proposals 
are directed to this end. This category of reactionary socialists, for all 
their seeming partisanship and their scalding tears for the misery of 
the proletariat; is nevertheless energetically opposed by the commu- 
nists for the following reasons: 

(1) It strives for something which is entirely impossible, 

(2) It seeks to establish the rule of the aristocracy, the guildmas- 
ters, the small producers, and their retinue of absolute or feudal 
monarchSj officials, soldiers, and priests— a society which was ; to be 
sure, free of the evils of present-day society but which brought with it 
at least as many evils without even offering to the oppressed workers 
the prospect of liberation through a communist revolution. 

(3) As soon as the proletariat becomes revolutionary and com- 
munist, these reactionary socialists show their true colors by imme- 
diately making common cause with the bourgeoisie against the 

The second category consists of adherents of present-day society 
who have been frightened for its future by the evils to which it nec- 
essarily gives rise. What they want 3 therefore, is to maintain this 
society while getting rid of the evils which are an inherent part of it. 
To this end, some propose mere welfare measures while others come 
forward with grandiose systems of reform which under the pretense 
of reorganizing society are in fact intended to preserve the founda- 
tions, and hence the life, of existing society. Communists must un- 

1 The editor of the Marx-Engels Ges&mtausgabe surmises that this is a 
reference to an earlier draft which had been prepared by Engels* comrades in 
Paris. He definitely rejects the explanation put forward by Eduard Bernstein 
when he first published the Engels manuscript, that the reference is to an 
earlier draft prepared by Engels himself. P.M.S, 



rernittingly struggle against these bourgeois socialists because they 
work for the enemies of communists and protect the society which 
communists aim to overthrow. 

Finally, the third category consists of democratic socialists who 
favor some of the same measures the communists advocate, as de- 
scribed in Question 18> not as part of the transition to communism, 
however^ but rather as measures which they believe will be sufficient 
to abolish the misery and the evils of present-day society. These dem- 
ocratic socialists are either proletarians who are not yet sufficiently 
clear about the conditions of the liberation of their class, or they are 
representatives of the petty bourgeoisie, a class which, prior to the 
achievement of democracy and the socialist measures to which it 
gives rise, has many interests in common with the proletariat. It fol- 
lows that in moments of action the communists will have to come to 
an understanding with these democratic socialists, and in general to 
follow as far as possible a common policy with them, provided that 
these socialists do not enter into the service of the ruling bourgeoisie 
and attack the communists. It is clear that this form of cooperation in 
action does not exclude the discussion of differences. 

QUESTION 25. What is the attitude of the communists to 
the other political parties of our time? 

Answer, This attitude is different in the different countries. 

In England, France, and Belgium^ where the bourgeoisie rules, 
the communists still have a common interest with the various demo- 
cratic parties, an interest which is all the greater the more closely the 
socialistic measures they champion approach the aims of the commu- 
nists, that is, the more clearly and definitely they represent the inter- 
ests of the proletariat and the more they depend on the proletariat for 
support. In England, for example, the working-class Chartists are 
infinitely closer to the communists than the democratic petty bourge- 
oisie or the so-called Radicals. 

In America, where a democratic constitution has already been 
established, the communists must make common cause with the party 
which will turn this constitution against the bourgeoisie and use it in 
the interests of the proletariat, that is, with the agrarian National 
Reformers, 1 

In Switzerland, the Radicals, though a very mixed party, are the 

1 Probably a reference to the National Reform Association, founded dur- 
ing the 1840s by George H. Evans, a movement with headquarters in New 
York City which had for its motto "Vote Yourself a Farm." P.M.S* 



only group with which the communists can cooperate, and among 
these Radicals the Vaudois and Genevese arc the most advanced. 

In Germany, finally, the decisive struggle now on the order of 
the day is that between the bourgeoisie and the absolute monarchy. 
Since the communists cannot enter upon the decisive struggle be- 
tween themselves and the bourgeoisie until the bourgeoisie is in 
power, it follows that it is to the interest of the communists to help 
the bourgeoisie to power as soon as possible in order the sooner to be 
able to overthrow it. Against the governments, therefore, the commu- 
nist* must continually support the radical liberal party, taking care 
to avoid the self-deceptions of the bourgeoisie and not to fall for the 
enticing promises of benefits which a victory for the bourgeoisie 
would allegedly bring to the proletariat. The sole advantages which 
the proletariat would derive from a bourgeois victory would consist 
( 1 ) in various concessions which would facilitate the tasks of the 
communists in guarding, discussing, and propagating their principles 
and would hence also facilitate the unification of the proletariat into 
a closely knit^ battle* worthy, and organized class; and (2) in the 
certainty that on the very day the absolute monarchies fall, the strug- 
gle between bourgeoisie and proletariat will start. From that day on ? 
the policy of the communists will be the same as it now is in the 
countries where the bourgeoisie is already in power. 




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WHERE WE STAND —From the editors' statement of policy 
in Vol I, No. 1, published in May, 1949. 

We find completely unrealistic the view of those who call them- 
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